As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m sharing tips and ideas that I’ve gleaned through my Working while Homeschooling time this past year. (If you would like to check out Day 1 of this series, please click here, day 2 here, and day 3 here, and day 4 here.)
TIP #7: DELEGATE.
There is just not enough you and not enough hours in the day for everything to get done. And so you’ve got to figure out ways to either clone yourself (look below), or delegate some of those responsibilities.
After figuring out our homeschooling priorities, it was easy for me to see which things were important for me not to delegate away: work (because I can’t), and homeschool. And so those are the first two things that get first dibs on my time.
Notice housework is not in that list! 🙂
When we were financially able, we would get help with the house. Even having someone come in and doing the heavy cleaning 1x a week or even every two weeks lifted a burden off of my that allowed me to deal with other things. I just needed to deal with maintaining that clean as best I could, but knowing someone had my back took a lot of the pressure off. I totally recommend getting outside help if it is ever in your budget, even if it is just once a month. I consider it time well saved and money very well spent.
Now, when it is not in our budget due to the high cost of living, there are still things I can delegate. First of all, I delegate dealing with hubby’s work clothes. There is a dry cleaner not far away that can do a MUCH better job than me on his suits and shirts for work, and much more quickly as well. They cost just $1.20 per shirt. It would take me 15-20 minutes to iron that exact same shirt, and that time would cost me a lot more in work time lost! So we delegate out his work clothes. (Happily, too. I absolutely hate ironing with a passion.)
And the biggest thing is that I’m now trying to delegate some of these cleaning activities on to the girls. I started this last year, right when we moved here and even before I got work. They were five and three at the time, and obviously this is a long-term plan. At that age there were still things they could do, which meant there were things I then didn’t have to do. We started with making their beds every morning. (Cleaning up their play area was always their task.) They have learned to fold part of the clothes, which started with matching and folding socks, to wash cloths and hand towels, to large towels, to their shorts and pants. (Shirts are complicated, so we are working up to that.) Even with that much, they now fold about half the laundry, which cuts my own time folding laundry in half. They help me clean the bathroom – they need lots of supervision but they get it done while I do things they can’t reach, like the mirrors, etc. They help put dishes away and dust, while I vacuum and clean the kitchen. The girls are a major help around the house, and we do much of that together – I can supervise and get things done while they do their part. There is absolutely no way I could complete anything around the house without their help. The house is still not perfectly clean ever, but every once in a while we will just drop everything and scrub the entire house down so we can start fresh and new.
I delegate out some homeschool things that I can’t do. The girls are in the church’s kid choir, where they are learning about music theory and performance. I could do this, but there is not much need since the church has awesome volunteers that do such a great job. We also have a babysitter that comes in twice a week (more on the big childcare issue later) and she is a fluent, native speaker of Spanish. So, she works with the girls on their Spanish. That is something I can’t do. We also rely on some summer camp activities, like Math Camp, or soccer for organized sports. We have gotten active in our church’s food pantry and their gardens, where some of the retired members of our church volunteer. One woman in particular has “adopted” my girls and they adore her. She takes them through the gardens and teaches them all about gardening. (I do not have a green thumb at all, and seem to kill just about everything I touch.)
Hubby has taken over science for me as long as I set it out for him to do, and also does many of the “field trips” when I have speaking engagements on the weekend (which happens every few months).
And we have a family in our neighborhood that is brand new to homeschooling, and I’m hoping that she and I can team up and perhaps carpool on somethings occasionally in the future. Even with homeschool, you don’t always have to do everything yourself. Take advantages of whatever resources might be around you.
TIP #8: FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO TWO THINGS AT ONCE.
And this is the big trick. You’ve got to figure out what to do when delegating isn’t possible, and until cloning is. You’ve got to do two things at once.
Almost all of my work is on the phone with clients nonstop in the afternoons, so it’s hard for me to do two things at once. But some things I’ve figured out. I run the dishwasher at lunch so it can be doing dishes while I’m working. I run the washing machine and dryer, stopping only to flip it while doing homeschool and work. That’s two things I’ve figured out so far.
Since I have both a laptop and a desktop computer, sometimes I will have something running on the laptop while I’m working so I can try to do two things at once. Like, perhaps editing pictures during breaks between calls so I can upload them during calls. Writing work blog posts during breaks. Doing “the books” during a slow period.
This is really how it boils down to me. Time IS money. Every hour I spend not on the phone with clients means that is an hour I’m not earning money. If I generally make $XX per hour dealing with clients, then whatever I do when I am not working, needs to be worth that time. (Like ironing hubby’s shirts. In the time it would take me to iron them, I could be working with clients and making $XXX amount of money, and usually am. So therefore, it really IS a lot cheaper for us to delegate that out.) I try not to waste too much time doing things that aren’t worth my time.
I know some people will argue that point with me, saying that’s a very American, humanistic point of view, and to a certain extent I agree. However, I know that time is my most precious and valuable commodity and resource that God has given me, and it is extremely important to me that I be a good steward of that resource during this time period of my life.